Lessons from the Pasta Machine

I was a freshman in college, newly engaged and browsing around a Williams-Sonoma store in Burlington, Massachusetts when I rounded a corner and fell in love. Everything, including Peter (who was with me), faded away into the background as I stared at the shiny chrome body, the wooden handle, and the "Imported from Italy" sticker. I immediately had visions of us working together to churn out the finest homemade pasta ever made. Despite the $49.95 price tag, I knew that it was destiny and we were meant to be together. I glanced at Peter, who had the same starry-eyed look, and together we carried the Italian Pasta Machine to the counter to check out.

{Thirteen Years Later...}

I'm in full-fledged purge mode. I've already collected over ten bags and boxes of stuff to donate, trash, or sell, and I've worked my way into the kitchen. As I opened the upper cabinet, my eyes went directly to a little square box on the top shelf. I felt a knot begin to develop in my stomach and the flashbacks started. Four moves and multiple yard sales and this little box had survived them all. I climbed up on the counter top (the only way to reach the highest shelf) and pulled the box down. There it set, never opened, paperwork still intact...I swear it was laughing at me.

It knew, you know. It recognized me for the sucker I was and it begged me to take it home, knowing I would never, ever make pasta from scratch. Even when we were in a tiny African village that had just received electricity less than a year earlier, I was able to find pasta for sale at the local food shack. Although my gourmet cooking skills are in the improvement phase, I am well enough acquainted with myself at this point to recognize that no matter how much I grow to enjoy cooking, I will not add "homemade pasta" to the list of things I want to do.

What I understand at thirty that my seventeen-year-old self would never realize, is that I was in love with the idea of homemade pasta. The images of an Italian kitchen, pots boiling, noodles being churned out, racks of drying pasta - those were the things that my younger self was seeing in my future. My older and wiser self sees the stacks of dirty dishes, the annoyance when it doesn't work, and reality of the fact that my time is better spent doing things besides making my own ravioli.

{The Take-Home Lesson}

Before you slap down $50 on a kitchen gadget (or anything else), ask yourself if you have been getting along just fine without it.* I recently read a humorous post about a jalapeno corer over at one of my new favorite places to waste spend time online: The Unclutterer. The pasta machine was my jalapeno corer, only larger. It was beautiful and shiny, but in the end, it did nothing more than take up cabinet space and collect dust. As of last week, it was sold through Amazon and is now working it's way to the frozen tundra of Alaska to some woman who, I hope, will actually use it.

As for me? After paying for shipping to our 49th state, and losing a bit to the Amazon commission, I ended up shelling out $6 for the privilege of knowing that I once owned a pasta machine from Italy. I'd say that's a small price to pay for a big life lesson regarding pretty much anything I look at in a store: I have to have it. No, no I don't. I have had it, I have stored it, I have donated and trashed and sold it. I have experienced regret over the resources that have been frittered away on items of "necessity" that were forgotten about a few hours or days after they were purchased.

Selling the pasta machine on Amazon was a refreshing restart for me. It felt freeing to let go of something that I had to have, then I had to store, and then I felt guilty about getting rid of for so many years because "I paid good money for it". Shipping that little box opened up the floodgates of purging as I fully embraced the William Morris principle** (brilliant idea, Jules!) and viewed everything with a critical eye. Do I use it? Do I love it? Does it serve a purpose? So far, 2012 is off to a strong start.

What is YOUR pasta machine story?

* If you'd like to read more about giving yourself time to reconsider a purchase, I recommend checking out Trent's posts on The 10 Second Rule (I've been doing this since our financial regrouping in July), and The 30 Day Rule (we've done this for about 3 years, and it does help quell those impulse purchases).

** Want to learn more about the William Morris Project that Jules is hosting each week? A good starting point is this weeks post, How to Organize the Family Medicine Cabinet.


  1. For the past few weeks I've had boxes full of Italian Pasta Machines. I've survived the initial sting that I feel when I drop it in the dumpster/goodwill box/etc. And am a stronger person for it.
    Congrats on the great purge of 2o12!!

  2. Hi Carrie! Nice to meet at Jules' and thanks for stopping my blog. My pasta machine story is a pasta machine. I didn't buy it, but let my husband talk me into it when we were helping to clear out my Grandmother's house. We have had it for about a year and a half now, still unused. Memory guilt...

  3. I hadn't even thought of my pasta machine until I saw the picture of it on your link. Thanks for that. ;)

    Actually, I got mine as a wedding gift and it got put into a cabinet at my mom's house where it stayed for about 10 years. I never once wondered where it was. Then, when my mom cleaned out some cabinets and found it, she asked if she could have it. I told her it was already hers.

    Guess what? She hasn't touched it since. Now I know where I get it.

    I stopped by from Jules, btw. Can't wait to see what else you accomplish during this project. It really is fun to see what other people are getting rid of!

  4. I have a pasta machine! I have that pasta machine, actually. And I've used it! Not often. *cough*

  5. I found a pasta machine at a second hand store and I haven't used it either. Your post makes me think that I should give it to my daughter who makes clay creations, she could use it. Thanks for the post, I came over from Jule's too, this is fun!

  6. Love this! This past year, I kept wanting to buy a new waffle maker, until I realized that a) my ugly, older one works just fine and b) I only make waffles a few times a year!

    Coming over from Jules, too.

  7. I have that very same pasta machine, and I use it at least once a month, it's pretty easy and quick after you get used to it. Yet, I am Italian, i have what you would probably call an Italian kitchen, so I'm afraid I fit right into the stereotype! ;-)

  8. Ah...being in love with the thought of something...how often have I been bitten by that one?!?!?

  9. Well, I'm happy to know that I'm not alone in my "pasta machine" issues, and that so many of us have them hiding away in our cabinets (with the exception of Anna, of course, who actually USES her pasta machine - can I come for dinner?!). :-)

    Thanks to all for taking the time to say hello!

  10. I had that pasta machine, too! my neighbor won it at a company party and she gave it to me after it sat in her house for a year. It only sat in my basement for 6 months before I decided enough was enough and sent it to Goodwill.


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